Lincoln Grade 8 students learned firsthand what it means to be an engaged global citizen by exploring New York City, aka the town often touted as the Capital of the World. The culmination of a yearlong Grade 8 human rights curriculum, the Global Citizenship Program extends and enriches students' education with hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities including a trip to the UN, a show on broadway, and an intimate dinner graciously hosted by Alisa Robbins Doctoroff '76 with local alumnae including Meredith Vieira '71
After arriving in town, the first stop was the Urban Future Lab, New York City's premier facility for the clean tech and energy community, supporting company formation and showcasing innovation. Pat Sapinsley '71 introduced students to the kind of work Urban Future Lab is doing.
"Ms. Sapinsley showed me a completely different way how to get things done," said Grace Boghosian '21. "The Urban Future Lab helps people make connections, helps business establish how they operate and how they present themselves, and it helps people involved feel confident. They help startups that are no doubt going to be a big part of our future."
After dinner at Buca Di Beppo near Times Square (with a special birthday song for Celeste Derry '21!), they caught a slice of arts and culture on Broadway with the musical Wicked.
The next day brought a full morning at the United Nations, both the Quaker office and a tour of the larger facilities, where students learned about the security council, the inner workings of international cooperation, and got to see the general assembly in session.
"I of course knew there were a lot of countries in the world. But I saw all the flags outside the UN and realized this was truly a place for everyone," said Isabel D'Hondt-Gorbea '21. "All these countries are able to set differences aside and come here to solve their issues peacefully. That's a very powerful thing to see."
They next visited the UN Women office and HeforShe, an organization that engages people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality. Students engaged in a roundtable talk with some of the movement's leading staff members, sharing personal stories, playing games, and discussing what we can all do to fight for gender equity, even in small ways.
"I'm from a village in Egypt. I was born when my mom was 11 years old," said Emad Karim, Global Youth Engagement Lead at HeForShe, UN Women."There are more than 15M girls worldwide getting married and becoming mothers before they're ready. What's special about HeforShe is that we don't just say this is bad for women and girls. We say this is bad for everybody, and this is something everyone has a responsibility to work to fix.'
That evening, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff '76 opened her home to local alumnae and Grade 8 students for small group discussions over dinner.
"We need you, Grade 8 students and alumnae. We need your unique talents, the mind that Lincoln is helping to cultivate. We need to all ask ourselves what we can do to change the world and make it the kind of place we want to live in for a long time to come," said Doctoroff.
Meredith Vieira '71 facilitated a larger discussion with students and alumnae about what girls had learned on their trip, the opportunities and responsibilities of this young generation, and the value of persistence. She shared a personal story.
"When I was at Channel 10 in Providence, my first real gig, my boss said to me one Friday that I don't have what it takes. I went home to East Providence where my parents lived and moped around. But then my dad asked me a very important question. He asked me if I thought I had what it takes," said Vieira. "I said yes. He replied, 'Then why do you care what your boss thinks?' I went back on Monday, confronted my boss, and got my job back. It was the best thing that could have happened. It forced me to dig down in myself and be motivated by it. People will tell you: 'you can't.' But that's the perfect opportunity to show them who you really are."
Having spent her career as a journalist, talk show, and game show host, Vieira shared her growing concern with the current climate in television, print, and online news—opinion masquerading as fact. She said that this trend presents a dangerous double-edged sword, and encouraged students to become as media literate as possible.
"I envy all of you that you have access to more information than anyone has ever had, but you have to be diligent. It's become increasingly hard to find what's real and what's not," said Vieira. "But the good news is, you are already critical thinkers. I encourage you to listen to as many viewpoints as possible. Find the truth. Pick the sources that are legitimate, not easy. Look everywhere and absorb as much as you can. And please, don't forget to talk to people. If we can't communicate and build bridges, where will we be?"
Thankfully there were many conversations going on that evening between Lincoln girls young and old, different discussions all connected with a common thread.
"I'm amazed by all of you. You are very strong women who can bond together to get the rights and fair treatment that women deserve. Lincoln has done something very right with all of you," said Vieira. "Look around you and you'll see the truth in this: the connections you make at Lincoln School will be some of the most influential and inspirational of your entire life."
After a night of well-earned rest, Grade 8 students visited the Whitney Museum of American Art to discuss the Artist as Critic and view a range of twentieth-century and contemporary American art, with a special focus on works by living artists. After that, they took the train home armed with an enriched perspective on what it means to be a citizen of the world.
"New York has opened my mind," said Grace Bogosian. "Here, there is a place for everything and everyone."